Accessibility links

Breaking News

Syrian Forces Fire on Activists Mourning Friday's Victims

In this image made from television, protesters are seen near a barricade in Daraa, Syria, April 8, 2011
In this image made from television, protesters are seen near a barricade in Daraa, Syria, April 8, 2011

Witnesses say Syrian security forces opened fire on opposition activists in two towns on Saturday, a day after officials and activists reported 36 people killed during anti-government unrest.

In the southern town of Daraa, witnesses say security forces fired at mourners attending funerals for some of the victims of Friday's unrest.

Daraa has become a flashpoint of opposition protests. Most of Friday's deaths occurred in or near the town.

Earlier Saturday, witnesses in the port city of Latakia said security forces fired live ammunition to disperse hundreds of anti-government protesters.

Activists had called for more protests on Saturday in spite of a new government warning against demonstrations. They urged protesters to take to the streets following funerals for victims of Friday's violence.

Following Friday's bloodshed, the Interior Ministry issued a statement declaring there is "no more room for leniency or tolerance" in enforcing the country's laws and maintaining security.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton condemned the violence in Syria. In a statement Saturday, she urged the government to enact "meaningful political reforms."

President Assad recently announced reform plans that included changing government leadership positions. He also has said authorities are studying whether to lift emergency regulations enacted decades ago that ban unsanctioned public gatherings and limit other forms of public expression.

So far, however, the president's gestures have failed to appease opposition activists calling for a sweeping overhaul of Syrian institutions.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.